FNE at the 9th Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest: Cultural Hubs as Solution to Revive Old Cinemas

    Cristian Mungiu and Bogdan Tofan Cristian Mungiu and Bogdan Tofan

    BUCHAREST: Old Romanian cinemas recovered by local authorities could be refurbished and transformed into cultural hubs if they become part of a national plan that would apply for European support for digitalisation.

    That was the starting point of a panel organised at the 9th Les Films de Cannes a Bucarest. The founder of the festival, director/producer/distributor Cristian Mungiu, plans to bring together representatives of key institutions and to move forward on the creation of an association that would help all Romanian cinemas in need.

    Cinemas are a weak spot in Romania. Despite the fact that admissions increased to 13.8 m in 2017 due to multiplexes, the tradition of one-screen cinemas is vanishing. RomaniaFilm, which took over the Communist era network of cinemas, announced recently that it will close 10 cinemas, leaving only three open, in Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu and Piatra Neamt.

    Local authorities have the legal possibility of recovering old cinemas, but usually they don’t know how to refurbish them, so a national plan would not only allow them access to European funds for digitalisation, but also to consultancy and management education from the MEDIA Programme and Europa Cinemas.

    Bogdan Tofan (Commissioner for the Biennale of Architecture) presented a 3D scale model for the refurbishing of the Capitol cinema, located in the centre of Bucharest in an area with several old cinemas, most of them closed. Tofan said that the project would allow the revival of the whole area and also that the Architects’ Union provides free consulting for those who request it.

    “The idea is not to change the walls and the seats of these cinemas with 1,000 seats, but to replace them with cultural hubs with a few halls with fewer seats, restaurants, cafes and children’s areas, so as to make them an alternative to commercial malls”, says Mungiu.

    Unfortunately no representative from the Bucharest City Hall participated in the panel. This year the Bucharest City Hall has recovered five old cinemas, which are run down and closed, and promised to rehabilitate them, with no other initiative so far.

    On the other hand, the Romanian Film Centre (CNC) has announced its intention to find a legal framework for granting 100,000 EUR for the technological upgrade of cinemas. According to Mungiu, the CNC would also need to include in its new film law a subvention allowing multiplexes to screen European and domestic films.

    The panel was a follow-up of a discussion Mungiu had at the Berlinale 2018 with Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and with representatives of the MEDIA Programme.

    Les Films de Cannes à Bucharest takes place in Bucharest from 19 to 28 October 2018 and in seven other Romanian towns until 11 November 2018. The festival was initiated by Mungiu with the support of the General Delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux.